Newbie Question

TexasJim Jan 21, 2021

  1. TexasJim

    TexasJim TrainBoard Member

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    Totally new at model trains at age 75. I am wanting to do small set in my shop for when grandkids visit. Ideal would be to us a 3’ X 6’ area I have. Is it possible to do HO in that small an area, or would it be better if I went with N scale?
     
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  2. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Jim, welcome. Glad to have you onboard. I'm 85 and have an 8'x15' N-Scale layout. What allows me to build structures and to maintain locomotives and rolling stock is a magnifying workbench light. I park my nose on its rim and work below. Also my layout is level-ish at 45" above the floor. (I'm 6'2")

    You didn't mention your Grand's ages, but that's a consideration for your scale. Under 10 might not be able to handle N-Scale. HO is more robust. N-Scale on the other hand allows more complexity of track layout and scenery.

    This lamp is similar to what I have. Understand that I'm not recommending this or any other, just giving you an example.
     
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  3. Bookbear1

    Bookbear1 TrainBoard Supporter

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    You CAN do HO, but you will be limited in what you can do in that space. With N, you will have much more scope for operations and scenery. That said, HO is much easier for small hands to handle, depending on the age of the grandkids. And if your scenery will be minimal, just a few buildings to suggest towns and industries, HO could work. Remember that N is almost exactly half the size of N, so what you could do in HO, you could do twice of in N, and vice versa. Happy railroading!
     
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  4. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Either scale is good. It all depends on your eyes and dexterity. I find kids do great with N scale.

    You can squeeze a lot into 3 x6 in HO scale if you use sharper 15" curves.If you can stretch the width a tiny bit then you can use 18" radius curves which is even better.
     
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  5. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    I switched from N to HO when I was mid 50s. The eyes and arthritis got worse.
    And the grandsons kids don't like them, there not digital.o_O
     
  6. TexasJim

    TexasJim TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the input. So it looks like HO for me. Now I just have to scout out some deals so I can get started on a retiree’s budget. Little bit afraid of buying used off of eBay because of my lack of experience. If anyone has things they are looking to retire that is still in good shape I would be interested in talking. That is probably a dream because retired trains just go on the shelf, right?
     
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  7. Dave1905

    Dave1905 TrainBoard Member

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    Depending on the age of the grandkids, another option is LEGO trains. They are battery powered, radio controlled and operate on plastic track. Excellent for small hands and can be set up on the carpet if you want. Plus they can "build their own" cars. Another option.
     
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  8. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    They are the perfect age for toys, but model trains can teach them more. To me, model trains at their best are a time machine. Those with fertile imaginations can get lost in the details, and find themselves in the era you modeled. That leads to teaching moments.

    But if you're married, ask your wife to please not call them cute, and their mother too. That tends to break the spell. Suddenly your little grandkids are full size again, and the time machine is just a piece of plywood.

    N is delicate. HO is too, if a little less so. Either way, the initial rule is, look but don't touch. That can be relaxed, but those privileges must be earned.

    HO in three feet of width is problematic. 15" radius track is about as small a circle as you can do in HO, and you're limited to short, four axle locomotives (probably switchers) and shorter (50 foot or less) freight equipment. Realistic U.S. passenger equipment is out, except for trolleys and other certain trams. But in three feet of width, a circle of 15" radius comes within a couple of inches of The Edge of the Earth on each side.

    That said, HO is kinder to 75 year old eyes and fingers.

    We will help you design a layout. Odds are someone here can tell you if any rolling stock you have your eye on can handle your curves, and how reliable it is. Welcome, and please let us help. We like to!
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
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  9. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Care to share how you came to the decission?

    I felt the same a couple years ago but now with over 50 locos off eBay and maybe 2 that I shouldn't of bought almost all my locos and cars come from eBay. I'll bet at least 50% of what I've bought were never used except to maybe run them around a track to see if they work, which so far is as far as I've gotten with them :(

    I'd share what you have in mind for what you are looking for. Any particular railroad, engine type or time period? You might not want to post links to items you find on Ebay to avoid competition on bidding on them but maybe you could ask some of the HO guys here if they would mind if you PM'd them links to look at and offer advice on a particular item. I'd do it but I'm N.

    I was 75 when I got back into this a couple years ago and was a little worried about getting into N at my age but after a little time it all looks bigger and I adjusted although I do wear an Optivisor for a lot of the fine work. Not sorry one bit about returning to N :).

    Sumner
     
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  10. TexasJim

    TexasJim TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the response. My reluctance with eBay is simply lack of experience in the model train world. Wanted to us HO due to arthritis and essential tremors make it very difficult for me to work on very small items. If money, and product availability, allows I would like to create a passenger time similar to what came through my home town during the 50s and early 60s. I remember my grandmother coming to visit and she would ride the train from Houston (I think it as the Katy).
     
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  11. TexasJim

    TexasJim TrainBoard Member

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    I am trying to rearrange the shop to be able to go from 3’ to 4’
     
  12. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Four feet is marginal. No HO passenger cars that are truly to scale will do 18" radius. There is passenger equipment that will. It's a little short, but pretty convincing anyway.

    There are certain truly scale-length Pullmans and such that will do 22" radius. But you'll want carpet with thick padding. 22" on a four foot board rides right along The Edge of the Earth. If you want a steam engine, even a charming little Katy USRA light pacific, 22" radius may be necessary.

    Katy equipment exists, but it's rare. I think it's worth the trouble to find, but then, both my dad and I were raised on the M-K-T. Have you ever applied decals? They can allow you to make undecorated equipment Katy without a teeny, tiny paintbrush and a jeweler's loupe.
     
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  13. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Since you are making a small layout, you may want to consider quality over quantity.

    Locos can be found pretty cheap, but you will get what you pay for. On a small layout like you are planning I would say something like a 2-8-0 is worth checking out. Bachmann makes one in their spectrum line. Maybe someone else can provide some feedback on how those are. A good question is if that model can run on 18" radius curves.

    If you can find a Life Like Heritage model line, not one of their regular models - it has to be heritage, the 0-8-0 is one of the finest running and looking models I've ever seen. I had have one and I prize it highly. I am not even modeling HO right now, but I kept that one loco.

    My personal experience was that I bought a lot of locos. After my layout was built I ended up selling a lot of locos that ran poorly.

    IMHO, don't skimp on locos.

    Cars can be found used on the auction site. Branchline Blueprint brand makes some shake the box kits that are very nice. Well, you will need a screw driver and maybe some glue.

    Passenger cars get more complicated. But, if you are creative you can buy really cheap old ones as place holders that you can practice painting and decaling on. Look for the Tyco or Bachmann old timers. I just saw one on the auction site for about 8 bucks S&H included. Again, the Spectrum line by Bachmann has a nice 4-4-0 loco that would go well with a set of these.

    As someone mentioned up above, finding steam locos for your specific line may hard.

    Atlas produced a diesel as MKT. Look for Atlas H16-44 MKT.

    https://katyrailroad.org/

    Hope that helps.
     
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  14. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    I was thinking about your railway. And I get on these research binges where I can't stop.

    So, here is a interesting name sake train you can do a smaller version of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Special#:~:text=Texas Special. Jump to navigation Jump to search.,and the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (the Frisco).

    It was jointly operated with the Frisco. Rivarossi/ahm made some decent models. They can be found fairly cheap and they will operate on 18" radius curves. They also make e9 diesels to go with the cars. Careful on prices for these as I see them at ridiculous prices. But you may end up running a Frisco train.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/HO-Scale-F...359915?hash=item28a72bd6ab:g:OJ8AAOSwULZgB1dQ
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2021
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  15. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

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    If I may opine. If you are set on HO scale (as I am), you really should consider a 4' X 8' footprint. It will afford an opportunity for a minimal amount of added trackage for yard and switching, which adds many ideas and considerations for your collective empire. It wont take long for this to become apparent.

    I will also add, it is OK to start simple, meaning no DCC, just a turn of the throttle and it goes is OK too. It is also great to let you and your crew advance, at your leisure towards more advanced operations.

    We have here, some great modeling, mentors, and advisors. At the end of the day, there is no replacement for just "diving in". I have had the most joy figuring my way out of my own design flaws.

    Model RRing offers many learning opportunities, taken at your own pace. I have found that many MRR's have an array of skill sets, engineering, electronic, mechanical. But most of all a sense of humor and humility.

    It will always be, at the end of the day, and every day, when you are together, an enjoyable learning experience.
     
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  16. TexasJim

    TexasJim TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for your response. That is exactly the kind of feedback I was needing. I am trying to rework space in the small shop I have to allow a slightly larger layout.
     
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  17. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    18" radius on a four foot wide layout for an extra margin of safety vs. 22" for longer equipment and smoother operation is a tradeoff. I like passenger trains, and tend to err on the side of 22" curves and risking sending my tiny passengers off the edge of the earth. But feel free to disagree.
     
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  18. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

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    Another thing you might consider is an old time era. Locomotives and cars were smaller. Most old time equipment will be very happy with an 18" radius if you think the grandkids could relate to it. There are even passenger cars around 4-1/2" long modeled from cars that were in use on the Sierra RR. In fact, they are still in existence for use in TV and movie production.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2021
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  19. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    As a side note. If you have grand daughters, make sure to have lots of little people on the layout. My daughter was obsessed with all the scale animals. No reason not to buy some Zoo animals and have them wandering in the town where they can be played with. Of course, a gondola car is perfect for carrying little friends around the layout too. ;)

    Of course, you can also go full bore on the animals.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/HO-SCALE-4...463355?hash=item2f52abf27b:g:R7oAAOSwu2lgA6qT
     

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